EFFECTIVELY, North Ballarat Roosters had to win. No alternative.
So much was at stake – primarily to keep the Roosters’ season alive, but also to bounce back from a shocker at Box Hill a fortnight ago, and to fittingly honour captain Marc Greig in his 200th senior Victorian Football League match.
And all as a curtain-raiser to an AFL clash between Geelong and Greater Western Sydney at Simonds Stadium.
The Selkirk Roosters replied with a dominant 24-point win against the Cats.
Struggling North Melbourne forward Lindsay Thomas booted six goals, putting his steady goal-kicking repertoire on display with exciting snaps from the pack, lobs in from the boundary and sailing in set shots.
Roosters coach Gerard FitzGerald said his players had to make this win count.
That was to stay focused in a club bye this week and carry momentum forward.
“What we’ve got to do now is grit our teeth, roll up the sleeves and stop this up-and-down form,” FitzGerald said.
“As we’ve been saying for a while, our best footy is a good brand of footy ... after the game our players reflected on what they’ve done since the Box Hill game and we’re satisfied with the training and preparation we’ve done.
“But we need to keep doing that.”
After an even start to the match, Geelong took control with five unanswered goals, including four in the last 10 minutes of the term.
The Roosters regrouped at quarter-time, showed determination, and hit back hard in a nine-goal to three second quarter.
A big, booming kick from Lachie George from outside 50 metres sparked the first of eight goals straight to the Roosters as they dominated with free-flowing play on the wide open ground in the Cattery.
Thomas kicked three majors in the blitz and had four goals to half-time.
The Roosters locked down play in the second half.
Onballer Myles Sewell led the Roosters’ charge in high-pressure stoppages.
Leading into the game, the Roosters focused on restricting the opposition’s ability to win the ball and limiting opposition effectiveness with the ball.
The effects of this were evident in the Roosters’ tenacity in tackles, chase and stranglehold in the third quarter in which four goals were kicked – three by the Roosters, including two from Bill Driscoll.
Play was halted for about four minutes early in the quarter when returning Cat Daniel Menzel was stretchered off with a serious knee injury.
The Cats missed some late chances to chip back leading into the final break before the Roosters made another surge with the opening three goals of the fourth, kicking towards the demolished Doug Wade Stand.
Cats Allen Christiansen was stretchered off mid-way through the term with concussion but the quarter was cut short at 29 minutes, 30 seconds, due to time constraints for the AFL.
FitzGerald said that from the second quarter on, the Roosters played well and played a great defensive game.
This must continue, if they are to break into a tight top-eight, when the Roosters return to Eureka Stadium on June 17 to face the Northern Blues.